Día de los Muertos celebrates life rather than death

Posted at 10:06 PM, Oct 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-28 16:29:38-04

For each sugar skull meticulously placed, festive lights delicately strung, and lyrics softly sung along to, Raquel Reyes of Wilder finds meaning in tradition that goes beyond the mortal world.

"To me it is very sacred, and, I miss my dad very much," she said.

But while Día de los Muertos may translate to "Day of the Dead," Reyes says this day actually is not about death.

"We don't mourn them-- we're sad because we miss them. But we're bringing them back to life that day. Ya know, it's vibrant. It's about life. Celebrating life," she said.

And even though the Day of the Dead is celebrated in the days following Halloween-- and shares some of the same themes like skulls and colored lights -- Reyes says there's an important distinction.

"It's not Mexican Halloween. It's about their life on earth and bringing them back to visit."

Bringing them back starting with their favorite things-- or "ofrendas"-- which means "offerings."

"My brother in law loved tequila and Budweiser so I always put those on the altar for him when he comes to visit..."

She added, "elotes, preparados, and corn on the cob."

Other items give a nod to earth elements, like water and wind, as signified by these banners with cut-outs.

"So on their journey, we know when they arrive, because we hear the fluttering of the cut paper, or 'papel picado.'"

Reyes says she'll teach her grandchildren the ritual, because these days, she says, it's more important than ever that Latinos keep traditions like this alive.

"It's important that our community hold on to our cultures. And not let that fear make us hide more than we're already in the shadows."